Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 12, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MORE TROOPS....In an all-star op-ed written by the editors of our nation's two biggest conservative magazines, Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol argue that they have the secret to winning in Iraq:

The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.

....Administration spokesmen have jettisoned talk of "staying the course" in Iraq in favor of "adapting to win." If those words are to have meaning, the administration can't simply stay the course on current troop levels. We need to adapt to win the battle of Baghdad. We need substantially more troops in Iraq. Sending them would be a courageous act of presidential leadership appropriate to the crisis we face.

I swear, I almost think we should go ahead and agree to let them do this. If it would settle the question once and for all, I think I would.

But it wouldn't, of course. If it didn't work, they'd just write another column blaming the failure on something else. Lack of willpower, maybe. Or the French.

In any case, it's telling that they use the word "surge" and decline to provide an estimate of just how many more troops they think we need. A few thousand? Fifty thousand? Where are they going to come from? And do they really think that a surge would do the job? If they had the courage of their convictions, they'd provide a number, tell us what was needed to get the additional troops (pull them out of Korea? call up more reserves? extend tours of duty? institute a draft?), and admit candidly that these troops would need to be in country for at least several years. But they don't.

On the other hand, they're right about one thing: staying the course is the most irresponsible plan possible. There are arguments for withdrawing and there are arguments for sending more troops, but there's really no plausible argument for doing what Bush is doing. Staying the course is just another name for killing thousands more American soldiers for no reason.

Kevin Drum 12:41 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (106)

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Comments

Chuck Rangel was right -- bring back the draft, you draft-dodging little rich kid President.

Posted by: otherpaul on September 12, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Staying the course is just another name for killing thousands more American soldiers for no reason."

...and tens of thousands of Iraqis... oh right Americans don't give a fuck about them, do they?!

Christ, I'm sick of this evil war.

Posted by: joe on September 12, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

I agree.

A draft would settle the issue then and there.

Of course, Rangel introduced it only to make a political point, BUT ...

If Lowery and Kristol's argument has any salience at all, we can't do it at the expense of further eroding and demoralizing our military.

I say let the GOP run on reinstating the draft.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Heck, if they had the courage of their convictions, wouldn't they sign up and volunteer?

What these guys are proposing is sacrificing someone else's sons and daughters and family members on the sacrificial alter of Iraq.

Posted by: Oregonian on September 12, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

In an all-star op-ed written by the editors of our nation's two biggest conservative magazines, Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol argue that they have the secret to winning in Iraq:

Huh? I think you should re-read what they wrote. They did not say they had the secret to winning in Iraq. What they said was sending more troops would mean there was a greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq. If sending 10000 more troops meant there was a 1% greater chance of winning in Iraq, wouldn't it be worth sending more troops in Iraq? Certainly. Conservatives like William Kristol, Richard Lowry, and myself think anything we can do which would let the troops have a greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq should be done because Iraq and terrorism is the most important question for America.

Even liberals claim winning in Iraq would be a good thing to happen. Therefore, if doing something like sending more troops would give a 1% greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq, shouldn't that be done?

Posted by: Al on September 12, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

If they had the courage of their convictions, they'd provide a number, tell us what was needed to get the additional troops (pull them out of Korea?

No.

If they had the courage of their convictions, they'd march right over to the recruiting office and sign up for the Army, and organize recruiting drives targetting the 101st Fighting Keyboardists and College Republicans on campuses across the country.

Posted by: zAmboni on September 12, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Al:

That's not even the question.

The question is -- how?

Pass legislation to change the rules for call-ups by reservists and Guardspeople -- or reinstitute the draft?

Can't do it any other way than either of those two choices.

Which do *you* prefer?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

The whole idiocy in what Kevin quotes is the idea that we can win the war in Iraq with a "decisive battle" in Baghdad.

You don't win a counterinsurgency with "decisive battles."

Good fucking lord, these idiots really *do* learn nothing.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Putting out fires with...gasoline"

David Bowie

An excerpt of Kevin's citation from the article:

"The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. "


Boy, this is good stuff. "A decisive battle"? Against who? For a short list:

1. The Sunni Extremists
2. The regular Sunnis
3. The Shite Extremists
4. The Shite Separatists
5. The Kurd Separatists
6. The Foreign Jihadists...
7. The Interior Ministry...
8. The Death Squads (Whoops! I repeated myself)...

I could probably going on but I am getting tired of typing! This stuff is beyond fantasy, it is pure irresponsibility! As much as I am against the war I am willing to admit that there might have been a 'brief, shining moment' when the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force might have worked, but, as another song goes:

"Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago."

Indeed, as Kevin implies, what country would be crazy or stupid enough to send huge numbers of Iraq at this point? Unless we either conduct a draft of start calling up Korean War vets, it sure ain't gonna be us!!

Posted by: James M on September 12, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

More troops is also not going to solve the growing Kurdish problem. Over the past few days the Kurds have been making noises about seceding -- either legally, via legislative remedy in concert with the Shia -- or extralegally, constitution and central government be damned.

They're refusing to fly the flag of Iraq, refusing to stop flying their own flag which Maliki has told them is illegal -- and now they're making a big display of working on their own unique Kurdish national anthem.

That would be all well and good if secession was poised to be painless, but it's not. If they're going they're gonna take Kirkuk and it's oil with them -- and it's likely that neither the Sunni nor the Shia are going to let that prize go without a fight.

Not to mention Turkey breaking out in a cold sweat at the thought of an independent Kurdish state.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 12, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Therefore, if doing something like sending more troops would give a 1% greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq, shouldn't that be done?

Yes. I eagerly await your proposed plan of action, or that of the President of the United States.

Posted by: NBarnes on September 12, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Staying the course is actually just another name for "I have no fucking clue what to do."

Posted by: craigie on September 12, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

If they had the courage they would go to Iraq in some capacity to help out. They should either enlist for work for one of the no bid contractors. Can you see William Kristol in Iraq. He's too old for the Army, but he could drive a fuel truck or push a pencil. HE would never to that. He is the biggest of chicken hawks.

Posted by: David Triche on September 12, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Windhorse:

Amen to that. The people who talk about partition like it was the easy solution staring everybody in the face give me the willies ... Partition may well happen, but it will be Yugoslavia on steroids with all that oil to fight over.

And on top of that, if the Turks get truly anstsy (there's already a low-level guerrilla war between them and the PKK in the border region), who do we aid?

Our Friends the Kurds -- or our longtime NATO ally?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

More U.S. troops? Isn't that what Kerry suggested in the 2004 elections? I guess 1.5 years behind actual events isn't too bad for them.

Posted by: Fred F. on September 12, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Staying the course is actually just another name for...

A) Passing the buck
B) Presidential Senioritis
C) "Screw you guys, I'm going home"
D) "Stay the what? Come here and pull my finger"
E) All of the Above

Posted by: enozinho on September 12, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

My feelings are similar to James's above:

A decisive battle at a decisive moment? Against whom? Decisive in what way?

This is the kind of fuzzy thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on September 12, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

The surge is right on schedule.

Year American
1959 760
1960 900
1961 3205
1962 11300
1963 16300
1964 23300
1965 184300
1966 385300
1967 485600
1968 536100
1969 475200
1970 334600
1971 156800
1972 24200
1973 50

Posted by: jerry on September 12, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

"...improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment..."

If I didn`t know they are serious I`d be ROFLMAO

Who are they trying to kid ?

I`ll bet John Robb IS LHAO at the pure stupidity of these idiot poultry of a bright saffronlike color

What clutivated hubris & ignorance !!

"...With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power..." - Henry Wallace

Posted by: daCascadian on September 12, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Good fucking lord, these idiots really *do* learn nothing.

Posted by: rmck1 on September 12, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Lowry and Kristol are meant to be clever. We've been told that so many of these guys are smart.

Good grief!

I listened to the president tonight (Kick me if I use a "P" for this guy again) and there is no imagination.

So if we win the "Battle for Bagdad" somehow we will then win the war? If we rush how many? troops to Bagdad, the tide will turn.

IQ has never equalled ability or performance, and this whole group is so far from ability and performance that any coach or company would have kicked them off the team.

They think that they can rewind to May '01 and replay the game.

It's done. It's a new starting point.

To win the Afghan (not mentioned and almost as important) and Iraq wars militarily and simultaneously the US has embarqued on now requires a full war standing, a draft, and full concentration. Tell me I'm wrong.

Lacking that application, win one of the wars.

With winter coming, bring in the comparatively smaller force needed to damage the Taliban and help the villages in Afghanistan. Put that into a holding pattern for the winter while reinforcing the help to their government and strengthening countrywide ties. Don't then put it on the back-burner again.

For Iraq, recognize the significantly greater effort and expenditure now needed.

I'm looking for the analogy. If you put the money into the dam to begin with, the time and effort is rewarded by it being secure for generations. The effort put in so far has led to a constantly leaking dyke where all villagers have to plug holes and bring barrows of earth and sandbags every day.

It's a broken plan and, as I've said here so many times before, I've yet to see any realization, reappreciation, and reorganization, leading to a new plan. And never heard any new direction set out.

In running this "war", this administration is bankrupt. Exactly what happened to Johnson, and that Nixon delayed.

Posted by: notthere on September 12, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks,

(I believed I misspelled 'Shiite')

Messrs. Kristol and Lowry have watched the 'Lord of the Rings' too many times! You can fight a 'decisive battle' unless all the Orcs,Trolls and assorted mercenaries(guess we could just call them 'evildoers') will suit up and march against you on some fateful plain.

If we really try to deep disconstuct the Neocons I think we will find that their fundamental flaw is an inability to get past the paradigms they used to fight the Cold War. Their words speak 'new type of warfare', but their actions don't. Seems like the only real modification they have made is the willingless to ignore the Geneva Convention and apply torture.

(And by the way, is there ANYONE in this discussion (trolls included)who doesn't think that being 'waterboarded'or being placed naked in a freezing room is not torture?)

Posted by: James M on September 12, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Staying the course is just another name for killing thousands more American soldiers for no reason."

Not if we can secure those oil fields for our future use.

You are being selfish here Kevin.

Our soldiers opted to be in the military so they could represent our country.
Most are proud to die for our American way of life.

Instead of being such a selfish lib...
Here is a suggestion:

Think about the joy most Americans will feel if our soldiers can secure the oil fields.
Heck... we can all continue to accelerate our SUVS (stupid urban vehicles) at red lights.

Praise the Lord Kevin!
Let's bring the fight to those diaper heads!
Let's get their oil!
There too dumb to know what to do with it anyways.

Remember: we are Americans.
We know what is best for the world.


Posted by: koreyel on September 12, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air - April 1, 2003: "And on this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there's been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Kevvy, as Al Franken says, no one should be paying any attention to Kristol without bringing up this quote.

Posted by: jerry on September 12, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK
"Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever."

George W. Bush

June 29, 2005

Apparently Caesar has already spoken on this matter.

What's funny is watching Kristol writhe and contort on the issue of more troops without ever laying accountability where it belongs -- at the feet of Bush.

Over the past few years when he's written about it he's made it a point to pin the blame on Rumsfeld for insufficient troop levels.

Now even Rummy gets a pass and it's just a vague environmental problem, like having an unusually hot summer. No one's really responsible, it just happens. Too hot in Iraq? No problem, just turn up the troops. No need to ask questions.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 12, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, my final question should have read:

(And by the way, is there ANYONE in this discussion (trolls included)who THINKS that being 'waterboarded'or being placed naked in a freezing room is not torture?)

Posted by: James M on September 12, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

By Course do you mean Georges favorite Golf Course??

Or that Course that has no Course?

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 12, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Hey,I'm all for sending in more troops. My only condition is that these troops consist entirely of the eligible 30 or so percent morons of the American voters who still support their moron-in-chief. They have to include Bill Kristol's kids, Rich Lowry(he looks young enough), Bill Bennett's kids, Frist(his M.D. skills should be valuable on the field) and his kids, J.Goldberg,Michelle Malkin and her hubby, Dickhead's kids including the gay one, Jenna and Not-Jenna, George P.Bush(may that stop either anothe r future Bush presidency or another Bush was in another 30 yrs), Neal's and Marvin's kids,Wolfowitz' and Rummy's kids, Lieberman's kids and the kids of any other bloviator who has pimped this war. Oh, and also that kid of the defense contractor who had the 10 million dollar bat mitzvah a couple of years ago.

Posted by: bumblebee on September 12, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

(And by the way, is there ANYONE in this discussion (trolls included)who THINKS that being 'waterboarded'or being placed naked in a freezing room is not torture?)

Of course it is Torture, who would volunteer for such a thing? I don't see any reality TV shows called Waterboard.

Besides torture always gets the torturer the answer they want..even if its a lie.

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 12, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

What do you expect from a guy who, despite all his connections and possibilities through his father, could only get a job working for Dan Quayle?

Posted by: gregor on September 12, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

bumblebee: I appreciate the thought, but this seems like a sure fire way to lose the war. Although, it would make a good slogan:

"Send em over there, so we don't have to fight (and roll our eyes at) em here."

Posted by: enozinho on September 12, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yeh I agree with Bumblebee. lets send all those brilliant think-tankers such as AEI, Brookings, Rand and all the college chicken hawks who think they will ge off scott free. Until these silver spooned people get sent to war, and have family members that have suffered, then maybe they won't be so damned quick to want war.

The other group that needs to go first is those Hagee, Rushdoony, Roberston and Falwellian war mongers and those pedantic GOP pundits like limbaugh, another chicken hawk. These people who cry for war need to go first. I am sure the Generals and others will be happy to oblige these people.

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 12, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

bumblebee: I appreciate the thought, but this seems like a sure fire way to lose the war.

after all the keyboard warriors and GOP chicken hawks are gone then we start peace negotiations..problem solved.

Load em up and ship them off.

Posted by: Trinary Suka on September 12, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

And what the hell is the "course" we are staying.

While claiming opponents want to cut in run, they should be forced to answer this question.......to date it seems to be maintaining force levels by continually re-rotating in troops and steadily erroding our ready force effectiveness.

Are they analyzing what is working and what is not...changing tactics...developing new strategies...

I don't see any signs of it, and if they are, it sure as hell isn't working. Anbar province now reported as lost to further control by our forces "because we lack the manpower to control it".

Afghanistan steadily allowing resurgence of the Taliban after we nearly wiped them out but then shifted our focus almost immediately to Iraq.

Mr. President....what is the course we are following? What signs can you offer that this course has any chance of succeeding? What measurements are you using to track success or failure?

When will you appear in a forum where you allow y ourself to be asked these basic questions?

How much longer will your totally inept leadership destroy our country, our rights and our democracy?

Posted by: dweb on September 12, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't Rich Lowry and Bill Kristol among those early Invade Iraq supporters who agreed with Rumsfeld's minimalist military strategy? Didn't they also respond with vigorous support whenever Bush or anyone in the Bush administration and its Amen Corner resisted calls for more troops by saying "We have given the generals all that they've asked for"?

If I'm correct about Rich's and Bill's earlier stances with regard to troop levels, then aren't they now implicitly calling Bush, Rummy and the generals incompetent by substituting their judgement of the need for more troops over Bush's, Rummy's and the generals' silence on the subject?

Don't Rich and Bill know were're at war and that any criticism of our fearless leaders only emboldens our enemies?

Why do Rich and Bill hate America?

Posted by: Aaron Adams on September 12, 2006 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Stay the course accomplishes one thing:
enough chaos to keep the flow of oil unmetered but enough security to keep it flowing into the waiting tankers of US oil companies. Nothing is going to change as long as these bastards control the US military.

Posted by: joe on September 12, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

GLORY TO OUR UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, GLORY TO OUR SOLDIERS, AND GLORY TO OUR CITIZENS; DEATH TO OUR ENEMIES, WHO DID STRIKE US FIRST; EVERYONE ELSE, SCURRY NOW OUT OF HARMS WAY IF IT IS POSSIBLE, BECAUSE THIS WORLD WAR IS ON UNTIL OUR ENEMIES AND THEIR ENABLERS ARE ALL DEAD AND OUR VICTORY IS WON; POWER IS OUR SWORD, MERCY IS OUR SHIELD; THEY THEMSELVES ARE OUR WITNESS; THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING A BEGINNING THAT WE WILL END IN OUR VICTORY: WE THE PEOPLE OF THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA STRIKE BACK. VICTORY!

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on September 12, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

...how many more troops they think we need. A few thousand? Fifty thousand?

General Shinseki answered this question in his testimony at the start of the war. About 400,000 in all or about 250,000 more than now. This (I guess) was based on a rule of thunb that it takes about 2% of the population to police a country after a successful war. There are about 25 million Iraqis; about 4 or 5 million of them are Kurds, who (hopefully) don't need policing, which leaves about 20 million that do need to be policed.
20,000,000*0.02 = 400,000. QED.

Where will these soldiers come from? I haven't a clue. Even with a draft it would take years to raise and train such an army.

Of course, now we've got an insurgency, so the war has to be won again, and all these estimates are low.

Posted by: Jonrysh on September 12, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

That's a great idea !
This is what democrats should say: there is no plausible argument for staying the course, it just doesn't work, so we should either get out or increase troop levels. Since both solutions are politically unacceptable for the administration, that should make for a good debate for the next election.

I know this sounds horribly cynical, but that's how the other side has been winning the last 3 elections.

Posted by: Grigou on September 12, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron Adams, you are totally right.

The "The Objective Historian" has totlly lost it. Hard to imagine on the typed screen!

The world has turned. It is time for new ability.

We can't change the administration so it must be the military!

Change the Generals!

After finding the new course!

Posted by: notthere on September 12, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to imagine a more transparently desperate piece of advice, using some miraculous last ounce of our depleted military strength to launch a 'surge' to conquer Baghdad. Pretty pathetic.

Posted by: Fel on September 12, 2006 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

I was busy with something else, but thought you all might enjoy reading this, which turns out to be apt.

"War is something so monstrous that it befits wild beasts rather than men, so crazy that the poets even imagine that it is let loose by Furies, so deadly that it sweeps like a plague through the world, so unjust that it is generally best carried on by the worst type of bandit, so impious that it is quite alien to Christ; and yet they leave everything to devote themselves to war alone. Here even decrepit old men can be seen showing the vigour of youths in their prime, undaunted by the cost, unwearied by hardship, not a whit deterred though they turn law, religion, peace and all humanity completely upside down. And there's no lack of learned sycophants to put the name of zeal, piety and valour to this manifest insanity, and to think up a means whereby it is possible for a man to draw a murderous sword and plunge it into his brother's vitals without loss of the supreme charity which in accordance with Christ's teaching every Christian owes his neighbour."
-- Erasmus, "In Praise of Folly", 1509

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 12, 2006 at 5:08 AM | PERMALINK

I still don't get what these reptiles mean when they talk about "winning" an occupation?!? When everyone in Baghdad is dead? When every rifle has been confiscated? When everyone there displays a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on their camel? What does this "winning" look like?

These people are insane.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 12, 2006 at 5:46 AM | PERMALINK

the secret to winning?


(more ponies)

Posted by: rnc on September 12, 2006 at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK


al: Therefore, if doing something like sending more troops would give a 1% greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq, shouldn't that be done?

here's the actual latest move...


"The White House reveals that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad now houses a formal 'Office of Hostage Affairs'. - 9/7/06

Posted by: mr. irony on September 12, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

every call to more troops, more violence is a committment to the death warrants of some unknown soldiers. Easy for those not in uniform.
.

Posted by: pluege on September 12, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

More troops, less troops. It doesn't matter when you've lost the war for hearts & minds. Driving in my car the other day, I reflected on how the party of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Harry Truman couldn't manage to conceive or propose policies that put a Democratic stamp on things and put Republicans on the defensive. Democrats, in searching for Iraqi solutions, are reacting and opposing, but not proposing. The road was long & lonely, so as I drove I spun out the following, as an alternative to more troops/less troops. Works for me.

Thoughts on Unsolvable Problems

No one is projecting any good outcomes for Iraq, regardless of different US policies. And all agree that an Iraqi disaster is an important disaster. So, desperate times call for desperate ideas. Something like the following has probably been floated before, but despite whatever fatal flaws are obvious to others, I think it offers more hope than others currently on the table.

Iraq is floating in oil, and various politicians insist the oil belongs to the Iraqi people, but various politicians & bureaucrats control oil production on their behalf. The oil is concentrated in Shiite and Kurdish areas, threatening to dispossess Sunni from the nations only source of wealth. This unequal distribution of oil deposits may be an important factor in pushing the different ethnic and religious sects to civil war. Senator Biden suggests federating the country, but possession being nine-tenths of the law, oil remains the big problemand opportunity.

Right now, most of 24 million Iraqis have no direct financial stake in a stability maintained by a strong central government. Many are betting on whatever entity or group will give them the security and stability to survive the next few days or weeks, be it the army, a sectarian militia, or the local cleric. People behave differently when they have a direct financial stake in something. It doesnt have to be a big stake. If you have a $100 investment in a company, you are going to regularly follow that companys progress and care about decisions made. If you have no investment, youll think about other things. America was built on ordinary families having a vested interest in their communities and central government, as in the Homestead Act of 1862.

Since the Iraqi people own the oil, as everyone keeps saying, not some entrepreneurial wildcatters or a royal family or some powerful private corporations, why not formalize their ownership? Why not take advantage of the clean slate created by our invasion.
At a specific day and time, award each man, woman, and child one share of the national Iraq oil corporation in the form of a gilt-edged stock certificate made out to each individual. Do not issue any other stock in the corporation, i.e. the people and no one else owns the oil and its production facilities. The true record of ownership would be an electronic record with name, address, fingerprint, and, in the case of minors, parents or guardians.
A national census, with fingerprints, would precede the stock distribution. Outlaws and wanted persons would not get counted and would not get stock.
Adult individuals would elect management and make other shareholder decisions by voting their share by proxy at annual meetings. Parents & guardians would vote their dependents shares.
Shares could not be sold or otherwise transferred for five years. If someone dies, ordinary probate laws would apply after five years. The shares principal value is created by long-term stability.
Dividends from company income could be immediate, paid to each shareholder. A barrel of oil costs $2 to produce and sells for $70. Production at 2 million barrels a day results in 730,000,000 barrels or 30 barrels for each Iraqi annually. Do the math, and $2,000 per capita is a lot of money to average Iraqis these days. Iraqi can produce 6 million barrels a day. If the shareholders decide to maximize short-term income, they can double their current income per capita. If they decide to invest in long-term growth and much higher income, theyll benefit accordingly. But its their oil and their company. Maximizing shareholder value is their problem. If they decide that the local cleric knows best, they will have to live with the results. But if human nature runs true to form, people will almost immediately split off strictly secular matters from religious concerns. Votes to maximize shareholder value will, in turn, complicate votes for national government positions, as government tax and regulatory policies impinge on the their companys interests. Voting might quickly take on the confusing welter of competing considerations so familiar to electors in full-fledged democracies, dampening the exclusive power of clerics and ideologues.

One could keep running with this idea, but why is it appealing in its basics?

1. The only thing thats going to reverse the slide to civil war is something dramatic. The sudden rise of a ruthless dictator or, better, something that captures the imagination of ordinary people.
2. Ownership by individuals takes the location of oil deposits off the table. Ownership is a piece of paper or an electronic pulse, so familiar to capital owners throughout the world. Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd would share the wealth in the most equal way possible and could only increase the wealth by cooperating.
3. US policymakers continually say, Its not about the oil. Iraqis strongly suspect it is. Well, this would put that issue to rest.
4. Giving ordinary Iraqis a real stake in their future would give the concept of democracy some real world benefits. And its never been done this way before. Iraqis would not be copying some other cultures system. They would be blazing new trails. A successful democracy and millions of successful ordinary Iraqis would truly revolutionize thinking in the Mid-East, never mind among other oil producing nations where ordinary people just never seem to have much money and less power. A successful bottom-up national economic development program, as opposed to a top-down trickle system, would affect a lot of thinking on the nature of capitalism, the intentions of American policy, and the importance of the individual.
5. Who could object? Only politicians, corporate executives, or generals who think they have a pretty good chance of controlling the Iraqi peoples oil all by themselves. Or only American policymakers who, despite all assurances, were intent on a payoff for all the lives and treasure invested in the Iraqi adventure.
6. It would be very complicated to implement! Compared to?
7. American Revolutionary War soldiers went out to fight and risk their lives for their little grubstakes out in the forest. Some shares in an investment that offers real hope for a decent family future is something that Iraqi soldiers and policemen can get their heads around and take some risks for.
8. There would be a million attempts to scam or rig such a program, but if it adhered strictly to a one person-one share rule and got dividends flowing along with the crude, strange good things might happen.
9. The alternative is any one of the currently discussed policies or proposals, none of which have much prospect for success. If failure is all but certain, why not take some risks for success.
10. Iraqi elites would have to agree, and that would be hard for them. But the US could greatly benefit simply by advancing such a proposal and pushing hard for it. It would greatly clarify whose side we were on and undercut insurgents and likeminded national leaders who argued otherwise. If we had the Iraqi rank and file in our corner, for a change, how bad could that be?
11. One huge implementation problem would be Who is an Iraqi?, e.g. those long resident in foreign countries, those born elsewhere but living most of their lives in Iraq, those who have stuck in out through all the troubles regardless of their origins, etc. But what a good argument to have in the cafes of Baghdad and Basra vs. the discussions currently happening.
12. This is a put-the-Republicans-in-a-difficult-box proposal. It only works if Dems feel free to burn bridges with the same corporate interests who would be aghast at such ideas. Thats very much an open question.

Posted by: rhodebud on September 12, 2006 at 6:08 AM | PERMALINK

"There is now no good argument for not sending more troops" say bill and rich.

there is now no good reason to listen to kristol or lowery on any topic whatsoever.

Posted by: supersaurus on September 12, 2006 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

The question, "Where are we going to get the troops from?" shows just how disconnected from reality these guys are. We've got the U.S. Navy serving on the ground in Iraq. We've called up the Individual Ready Reserve. That's how deeply we're digging into the barrel to provide the troops we've already got there.

"More troops" means a draft. And a draft moves too slowly for this sort of war, once you've already reached this point: it would take a year before a draft yielded any troops, and we don't have a year.

Posted by: RT on September 12, 2006 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

There is a reason for 'staying the course' : politics : staying the course is the most workable solution politically for Bush et al, although it's hardly a good solution.

That is why you have Kristol and Lowry now saying what McCain has been saying for a year. AND THIS IS WHAT YOU MISS ABOUT THAT, KEVIN: they're saying it not because they believe it will happen or could work but rather because it gives them the out they need to blame 'liberalism' for the failure : ie, liberal defeatism turned Americans against the war and thus removed the only option that could have saved the situation.

I don't undertand why you guys don't get this. McCain has been playing this game for a year now, it's how he plans to win in 2008. Everytime you call for withdrawl and blindly ignore what the consquences of the withdrawl will be you play into their hands.

The die is cast in Iraq. The only question left to be decided is how the politics of it will play out and democrats are once again demonstrating that the game is beyond them.

Posted by: saintsimon on September 12, 2006 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

Re; "More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment."

There will be no decisive battle in Iraq because our enemies know we already have the capability to win such a battle easily. That's why they use the tactics they use.

Posted by: Randy on September 12, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand what the big deal is as to more American troops getting killed. The current situation is tenable, if not advantageous, for Republicans. They can constantly refresh the fear button and summon citizens to push back against the godless, craven, pro-islamofascist Democrats. The soldiers dying come from mainly lower class backgrounds, not exactly descended from the type of family writing large checks to the RNC. So, no big revenue loss to party coffers. Also, watch interviews with grief stricken family members of the fallen. Nearly every one will tell the camera Buddy or Mary were doing what they felt was right and necessary, knew the risks and and their family and all of America should be proud of their service. Damn little "I hope that bastard Bush rots in hell for getting my kid killed needlessly" can be heard. No, a few hundred dead kids a year from military families or sketchy backgrounds won't dent Bush's enthusiasm for war, nor the public's tolerance to stomach it. Until there's a draft and doctors and lawyers and elected officials are having junior airdropped into raging firefights you'll not see a change. Of course junior probably still wouldn't suffer, getting moved to the front of the line in a stateside Air National Guard assignment always being a viable option.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 12, 2006 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Gtterdmmerung.

Are Lowery and Kristol nucking futs.

The time for a decisive battle has passed. Do we really want to pick sides? Which one?

I heard a story from Iraq last night that the some of the sunnis in one province want to surrender to the US in one province, but we have taken all but a brigade out of that provicne to wack a mole in Bagdad. As a result the Al Qaeda in Iraq clowns have taken over the province. The sunnis think we are siding with the Shia. The Shia think we are siding with the Sunnis. They are both right and both wrong. Some days and in some places we side with the Shia, and other days and in other places we side with the Sunnis. Why? Well we don't seem to know what the heck we are doing.

Donald Rumsfeld remains secretary of defense? People still pay Lowery and Kristol to write columns?

Why?

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 12, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

They're not being killed "for no reason"...they're being killed in respect for those killed before them...anyone watching this fool for the past six years would understand how he sees this as logical. The absolute wonder to me, on a daily basis, is that there remains even ONE person anywhere who can look at him and listen to him speak without breaking out into guffaws!!! POOR SIMPLE FOOL!!!

Are your eyes open yet!!!???????

Posted by: Dancer on September 12, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

"US troops must die so that Bush administration's reputation may live"

Posted by: Bathrobespiere on September 12, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

saintsimon wrote "The die is cast in Iraq. The only question left to be decided is how the politics of it will play out and democrats are once again demonstrating that the game is beyond them."

I could not agree more. The House and Senate will remain in Republican hands come November. Bush will still have carte blanche and Iraq will continue to burn. Late 08, Bush resigns under cloud of some scandal and Cheney grants an unconditional pardon. Some other poor schmuck is convinced to run for president - and finally admits that it is a lost cause and it is time to bring our boys home.

This situation, combined with Democratic incompetence at running campaigns, is a win-win for the Republicans and their corporate masters.

Posted by: Out on Bond on September 12, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the key sentence, "More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment."

These strategic geniuses are stuck in a 20th Century mode of warfare. There will be no "decisive battles" against terrorism.

Posted by: The Fool on September 12, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Kristol and Lowry sounds like a comedy act, but I think it would be a bit low brow for my tastes.

They'd have 'funny' debates about how green the sky is, over how flat the earth is, and about whether 1+1 = 5 or 6.

There's simply no way to take these vaudevillians seriously.

"Hey Kristol?"

"Yes, Lowry?"

"Did you hear the one about the Sunni and the Shite?"

"No, tell me!"

"If we don't get more troops in there SOON,I think the Shite is gonna hit the fan!"

Ba-dum-pish.

Posted by: Fides on September 12, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing to add except that "Bathrobespierre" is a bitchin' handle.

Posted by: shortstop on September 12, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ownership, rhodebud, means nothing in a society which cannot enforce or protect property rights. Look at Russia. Mikhail Khodorkovsky owned Yukos; he was one of the wealthiest men in the world 4 years ago. Now he has nothing but what he may have managed to squirrel away in Swiss bank accounts.

In Iraq, a piece of paper saying you own 10 shares i the national oil company would worth about as much as a piece of paper saying you were the King of Spain. The only kind of scrip recognized in a society in that state of disintegration is scrip backed by Kalashnikovs.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 12, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the key sentence, "More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment." These strategic geniuses are stuck in a 20th Century mode of warfare. There will be no "decisive battles" against terrorism.

If what we want is to win a decisive battle, the first thing we need to do is locate an army against which such a battle can be won. Unfortunately we already eliminated the only army in Iraq available for the job, by winning a series of decisive battles back in 2003. I think we might be able to win some decisive battles against the Iranian Army. After that maybe we could move on to winning some decisive battles against the Pakistani Army, and then maybe the Indian Army. After that things get harder. China might present a real problem.

Invade France, anyone?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 12, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Our nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box-cutters and plane tickets. We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people. And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world." - GWB


Yeah, let's just give up.

Posted by: Jay on September 12, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

"POOR SIMPLE FOOL!!!" - Dancer

That's exactly what I think of you Dancer. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

Posted by: Jay on September 12, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK
Are Lowery and Kristol nucking futs.

No, not really. It simply part of setting up the Dolchstolegende for the Iraq war: by presenting a course of action that is minimally superficially plausible for those who want to believe the war remains winnable, but one that is fuzzy enough that any motion in its direction that actually occurs can be sold as incomplete and hobbled by political resistance imposed by those who don't adequatel support the cause, they are framing the excuse for defeat—an adequate surge could have won the war, but inadequate devotion to the effort by the Left killed it. Whether the Bush Administration is framed as being a pure victim of the Left or being too timid in opposing them is still left open, but there is decreasing incentive for the even the neocon Right to defend Bush qua Bush even while favoring policies similar to (or more extreme than) those he has pursued. Indeed, it seems to me increasingly likely that the dominant trend will be to try to portray this administration as somehow incompetent in order to defend the ideology that the administration embraced despite the results the administration has produced.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 12, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Once again a speech about 911 turns into a pep rally for the W's misadventure into Iraq. Stay on subject George!

Posted by: American Idiot on September 12, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

"No wonder the American people are turning away from the Republicans in droves." - Mr. Street

http://www.pollingreport.com/2008.htm#misc

You might want to consult the latest polls Mr. Street. It doesn't look good for anyone in the Democratic party that offers no vision, no leadership and no plan in '08.

Of course clicking your heels three times and wishing it so may work too.

Posted by: Jay on September 12, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't read the piece Kevin linked to, but which battles do the writers believe the US military has lost due to insufficient troop numbers? To listen to Bush, one would be led to believe our military has not lost any battles, so I'm curious to know if they are calling Bush a liar.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on September 12, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Great idea Jay. Clicking and wishing seems to be working great in Iraq and the economy. I think the shrubs and Iraq wars approval ratings are going thru the roof.

Posted by: American Idiot on September 12, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Clicking and wishing seems to be working great in Iraq and the economy." - Idiot

Real GDP quarterly growth

GDP grew by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2006, up from growth of 0.7 per cent in the first quarter. The level of GDP is now 2.6 per cent higher than the second quarter of 2005.
Real GDP quarterly growth

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=192

Well, at least you picked the right moniker.

Posted by: Jay on September 12, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

'We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world." - GWB'
--Jay

When a man begins to believe that he is in the position of determining the fate of "millions across the world", it is time that we prepare to bring down a tyrant...


Posted by: The Liberal Avenger on September 12, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

As Glenn Greenwald notes, Rich Lowry was singing a different tune just five months ago, writing in The National Review:

You hardly qualify as a retired general these days unless you have written an op-ed piece demanding Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. One of Rummy's alleged sins was not providing enough troops to secure postwar Iraq. The debate over troop levels will rage for years; it is both characteristically American and somewhat beside the point.
Obviously, if we had it to do over again, we would send more troops in the hopes that sheer numbers would head off our problems. But to think that higher troop levels would have been a magic bullet is to indulge a very American faith in the power of mass to overcome anything. In Iraq, we have faced a delicate political and cultural problem that requires finesse above all finesse dependent on a fine-tuned understanding of an alien society.
Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

"Well, at least you picked the right moniker."

LOL.... Um, Jay, did you happen to actually click your own link and see what it was referring to? Free clue: it wasn't the U.S.

I just love it when these guys do our work for us, ridiculing themselves so that we don't have to.

Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

"When a man begins to believe that he is in the position of determining the fate of "millions across the world", it is time that we prepare to bring down a tyrant..." - Liberal Avenger


As usual the left continues to pick the wrong fight. Time and time and time again.


"At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity. We look to the day when the nations of that region recognize that their greatest resource is not the oil in the ground but the talent and creativity of their people. We look to the day when moms and dads throughout the Middle East see a future of hope and opportunity for their children. And when that good day comes, the clouds of war will part the appeal of radicalism will decline ... and we will leave our children with a better and safer world. On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to this cause. Our nation has endured trials and we face a difficult road ahead. Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. And we must put aside our differences, and work together to meet the test that history has given us. We will defeat our enemies we will protect our people ... and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty." - GWB

Posted by: Jay on September 12, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Jay, and if you clap just a little bit harder, maybe you can get a pony, too! Won't that be cool?

Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

>>>....Administration spokesmen have jettisoned talk of "staying the course" in Iraq in favor of "adapting to win." If those words are to have meaning, >>>

Hilarious. Mind-numbingly hilarious. Of course, there are those who don't understand what's hilarious about it. And they're the reason Mehlman and his fellow clowns keep burning the midnight oil at the Dept. of Pithy Phrases.

>>>The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. >>>

Decisive battle? What decisive battle? 'C'mon out and fight like men, insurgents!' Jesus Christ, the stupidity of the right is a vacuum that's just gonna suck us all into a black hole or something.

Posted by: fourmorewars on September 12, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Jay,

Interesting post and link to http://www.pollingreport.com/2008.htm#misc.

I happened to notice this:

"Now thinking ahead to the next presidential election in November 2008: In general, would you rather see a Republican or a Democrat elected as our next president in 2008?"

All Adults
Republican - 31%
Democrat - 50%
Other Party - 2%
Unsure - 17%

Even if you add all the "Unsure" to the "Republican" column, things don't look good for Republicans.

Sure, specific names make a difference, because McCain is a media darling and Hillary Clinton has been demonized. But things will change, especially as McCain gets called to account for being so similar to Bush. People want a change:


"Looking ahead to the next presidential election, would you like to see a president who offers policies and programs similar to those of the Bush Administration, or would you like to see a president who offers different policies and programs?"

Similar - 23%
Different - 70%
Unsure - 7%

Thanks for the interesting read, Jay. Maybe you should have read it to.

Posted by: Fides on September 12, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Jay, you must be a 30 percenter.

I prefer to think of him as "backwash"

Posted by: ckelly on September 12, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, Glenn's full article on Lowry is well worth reading. It skewers Rich, using his own words and his past history of, well, being wrong at every turn. A couple of choice Lowry quotes:

May 9, 2005: It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq.

December 16, 2005: This is why Democratic calls for retreat are so politically perilous, and so senseless, when Iraq might be on the cusp of a turning.

This statement of Glenn's is particularly apt as we head into a jingoistic election season:

Those dreary, un-fun Democrats. They keep pointing out the deceit and errors which brought us into this unparalleled strategic disaster in Iraq -- so that we don't make the same mistakes by listening to the same people -- when they should instead just [quoting Lowry] 'offer stirring rhetoric about the need for victory and for stalwartness in the face of setbacks.'

As for Jay, Glenn has something for him, as well:

And war critics have been so annoying, so unfair -- above all, so unserious -- because they have been drearily pointing out the reality that things actually aren't going very well in Iraq and that more 'stirring rhetoric' is unlikely to change that.
Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

As usual the left continues to pick the wrong fight.

The irony just oozes out of you, Jay. This from an avid Bush supporter - who has been fighting the wrong fight since 2003.

Posted by: ckelly on September 12, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Jay continues his impressive run as the rock-bottom stupidest of all the ignorant, propaganda-regurgitating, neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slaves who infest this site with their scripted stupidity.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 12, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

I prefer to think of him as "backwash"

All right, but the comparison seems needlessly harsh on pop, beer, whatever liquid refreshment. Day-old dried spunk might be more accurate. But Rule Britannia, eh, Jay-Jay?! (My god, that UK-US cockup is the funnest thing I've read in a week.)

Posted by: shortstop on September 12, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that Jay will bounce back. And it won't be too hard for him to find information on U.S. GDP growth, which has been pretty good, all things considered. Of course, what Jay won't tell you is that overall, the economy is a decidedly mixed bag, with both positive and negative stats. And there are definitely warning signs on the horizon, but it's not yet clear as to whether those will manifest more clearly in the next month or two or not.

As it stands now, both parties will be able to point to the economy to bolster their case for the fall elections, with the Republicans focusing on such things as GDP and the unemployment rate and the Democrats focusing on stagnant wages and the deficit.

Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

As for Jay, Glenn has something for him, as well:

Greenwald has something for everybody. He is well worth reading in full every day.

Posted by: shortstop on September 12, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

"There it's you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
-George W. Bush


Hey, this posting quotes from GWB is fun Jay! Of course, yours are rehearsed scripts written by someone else - mine is blurted out of GWB's tiny brain during an interview. "Um, er, ya know, hard work"

Posted by: ckelly on September 12, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

One final point on this -- why is it that the people who were, and continue to be, profoundly and idiotically wrong about Iraq and "the war on terror" are still being listened to and provided a national platform? Why on earth are either of these two men still taken seriously and given valuable real estate in The Washington Post instead of being treated as the disgraced and discredited idiots that they are? Why is it that those who were the most wrong about Iraq and the Middle East are still lionized and feted while those who were the most right are left out in the cold?

Sigh....

Posted by: PaulB on September 12, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhere in his severely repressed subconscious, Bush has to know that what we are doing now has very little chance of success, but his deluded superego concept of himself as the infallible Great Christian Warrior of Democracy allows him to pursue a steady course of non-adjustment(anything else would imply fallibility) until his term is up and it is somebody else's problem.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on September 12, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq...

Yes, the president should order this substantial surge. He should also order many more of our glorious battalions to attack the islamofascist regime in Iran. He should order the war to be expanded and fought on at least two fronts. Wait. Make that three fronts. He should also order a magnificent army to march on Damascus. And soon he must order the launch of our new V2 rockets to destroy our enemies in their cities. The Leader can and must order inevitable victory.

So, that'll be one substantial surge, some glorious battalions, three fronts, a magnificent army, a V2 launch and inevitable victory. Wouldja like freedom fries with that?

Posted by: R.Porrofatto on September 12, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Jason,

Do not quite understand your saying that we don't have enough troops to call up. Why, just last week I stopped in a complex over in Vancouver, WA to have an INR, a blood draw. Why, there were plenty of guys and a few gals just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing. They could all be called up. Why sit around the VA Hospital when you could be out there "surging".

Shortstop, loved Hastert singing the National Anthem - especially, where he sang, "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave, Play Ball."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 12, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Paul, glad you enjoyed Denny's musical patriotism; lord knows we all love a fat craven wrestling coach spoiling a sport that's actually interesting. Off to see the Dodgers spank Cubs butt tonight. Expect craigie to show up any minute to mock me in his heartless way.

Posted by: shortstop on September 12, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Stay the course" = "target practice"

Maybe Rumsfeld is expecting the "terrorists" to run out of IED eventually? Hard to see any other way that "staying the course" is tactical.

The obviousness of that is why the Publicans are now "adapting to win." Tho they hesitate to mention just what adaptation is occurring, because if they did, they'd demonstrate just how pig-headed they were in not "adapting" years ago.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 12, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

WTF? Did Hastert really sing the national anthem? Sounds like someone just added a level of hell

Posted by: ckelly on September 12, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"If sending 10000 more troops meant there was a 1% greater chance of winning in Iraq, wouldn't it be worth sending more troops in Iraq? "

This just might be the single most stupid thing Al has ever written.

No, Al, it wouldn't. One percent greater than nothing is STILL nothing.

If it takes 10,000 troops to give us a 1% chance at winning, or even a 1% GREATER chance at winning, we'd have to send close to a million troops to come close to expecting success.

And I don't think anyone thinks we need only 10,000 more troops. When the "more troops" people really talk about it, they mean 100,000 more troops, at least, and if they thought that would only increase our chance of winning by 1%, they wouldn't even mention them.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 12, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Rumsfeld is expecting the "terrorists" to run out of IED eventually? Hard to see any other way that "staying the course" is tactical.

Hell no.

Rummy knows DAMN WELL how much explosives they have.

He GAVE it to them when he left Al Qa Qaa unsecured the week after the invastion.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 12, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Funny how some items are just so embarrassing--give off such a stink of failure--that you can't even drum up a decent troll infestation. I was kind of hoping to scroll through the comment thread and watch the 30-percenters smear feces in their hair. Oh well. Guess it's back to work.

Posted by: ibc on September 12, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

ibc: Funny how some items are just so embarrassing--give off such a stink of failure--that you can't even drum up a decent troll infestation.

Well, Jay, Custer-like, was ready to make a stand until it was pointed out to him that the United Kingdom is not part of the United States. Then he suddenly decided it was time to go look for a job, wash his Cheetos-stained sheets or prank call the local Dignity chapter.

Posted by: shortstop on September 12, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

those 2 duffers won't be happy with just more troops--when that don't work just friggin nuke them till they glow.

Posted by: Dr Wu on September 12, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I know we're all killing work time here so naturally we need our little boy's club wang measuring contest but I think a real thoughtful post just slipped by up thread! I know quote-fighting is more fun, but for those not involved, I would love to have something worth reading today.

Rhodebud: I think you are on to something really interesting with Iraqi Oil Shares. I do believe that it's feasible (unlike "brooksfoe"), because his Russian comparison does not include US backing of shares. There's been some heated discussion about this on other blogs so I shared it with the crew in the office. We all agree it's more of a political bomb than an implementable plan. The unfortunate part is that big oil, Halliburton, etc pretty much any powerful corporate entity will do a cost benefit analysis of what they stand to loose via the redistribution and how much they gain without it. Taken to the next level they will actually be calculating the opportunity costs of stability in the region. Dead Iraqi's and dead Americans are not their problem, they are actually a completely externalized cost, perfect for business, it just simply does not affect their bottom line. It would be directly against the articles of incorporation and increasing or preserving shareholder value to support any initiative that hurt a company's long term investment in the region. War opens up markets, the land grab has already moved beyond the point of return. These bastards are too invested even through hypothetical revenue projections to do anything but block this through WTO and other international financial institutions. Every international governing body will feel the pressure to the point of murder.

But let Bush try and block it on the public stage, theres no way the republicans can spin it without showing vested interests in oil profits and disinterest in the Iraqi plight. I can see this finding its way into a certain Connecticut Democrats speeches. Hes got nothing to loose, its a proposal the public will understand, and its a free media circus. I say play ball!

Posted by: benjamin on September 12, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Commanders privately express needing 3X more troops

RAW STORY
Published: Tuesday September 12, 2006

CNN's Michael Ware just got back from being embedded with U.S. forces in the western Iraqi town of Ramadi. Ramadi is within the so- called Sunni Triangle. Insurgent activity there remains strong. Gun battles are a daily occurrence.

He joins us now from Baghdad.

Michael, good morning to you.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, good morning.

In Ramadi, in western Al Anbar province, we see what can only be described as a black hole in President Bush's global war on terror. As the president is going through his series of speeches to reassure the American people and to inform them about the success and the progress of his war on terror, there in Al Anbar we saw that al Qaeda at its very heart has been found, identified, yet is not being struck at.

In one of his speeches last week, the president referred to Osama bin Laden and his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. They make it very clear that Iraq is the centerpiece of their war against America, and that within that centerpiece of Iraq it is Al Anbar, it is Ramadi which is the toe hole from which they will build their base. What we know is that Al Qaeda in Iraq uses this area as its headquarters. This is where its leaders hide, move, plan. Yet, what is happening? America does not have enough troops to send out there.

Al Qaeda is almost untouched in its area of operations, and in the city of Ramadi itself, al Qaeda fighters are constantly attacking U.S. troops. Brigades sent to Ramadi are losing, on average, 100 American soldiers and Marines every year. And we don't see that abating.

So, here's the heart of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and there's simply not enough troops and no strategy to combat it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Michael, you have talked to the people on the ground there. I'm sure they probably don't say it for the record, but how many troops do they think need in order to get a hold of this problem?

WARE: Well, officially, from Baghdad to Ramadi, the response you will get from American commanders is that we have an appropriate level of force to do what we have to do within the confines of our mission. However, the key term that all of them use is "economy of force."

They say that we are applying an economy of force mission. That in itself is an admission that they don't have the full number of troops that they need to do what actually has to be done.

Privately, off line, what commanders, again, from Baghdad to Ramadi, will tell you is that they need at least three times as many troops as they currently have there now, be that Iraqi and American or, even better, just three times as many as American troops. I mean, there's an area there north of the Euphrates River that is used by al Qaeda's top leadership that Osama bin Laden himself points to. It's the size of New Hampshire.

You have only a few hundred American troops there. They can do nothing to hamper al Qaeda's leadership in that area -- Miles.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 12, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Since the Iraqi people own the oil, as everyone keeps saying, not some entrepreneurial wildcatters or a royal family or some powerful private corporations, why not formalize their ownership? Why not take advantage of the clean slate created by our invasion. At a specific day and time, award each man, woman, and child one share of the national Iraq oil corporation in the form of a gilt-edged stock certificate made out to each individual. Do not issue any other stock in the corporation, i.e. the people and no one else owns the oil and its production facilities. The true record of ownership would be an electronic record with name, address, fingerprint, and, in the case of minors, parents or guardians." -Rhodebud

Hooray for some imagination! I read this when you posted on Salon under another name. I can see youre making the rounds. I think there's a lot of merit to the idea, even if it has no real legs it's dynamite against the current administration. I agree with *benjamin* Let Bush explain why the Iraqi people can't invest in their own oil while we can! Are we there to spread hope or resource rape? We brought them the freedom to be sucked dry of their most valuable resource? I think it's a great way to actually try and put the American model to work for the Iraqi people. Jump start an economy based on self interest and community stability. Even if it gains no ground, lets point out who is holding up the train! It creates a great venue to attack those greedy individuals who got us in to this mess and are profiting off of our continued death toll. Bravo! I hope people pay attention to the idea and start asking the question!

Posted by: BrendonThompson on September 12, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Odd don't you think? More troops is exactly what LBJ did in Viet Nam. Are conservatives, even the radically so ones becoming liberal?

Right now combat fatigue is epidemic in Iraq. It makes battles like Iwo Jima look like training. Every American GI in Iraq is under continual threat, 24-7. The book says the tour of duty should be limited to no more than 6 weeks for troops under such conditions.

The greatest threat is for one of those Iraqi units we're training to turn on our troops and masacer them. It's already happening on a small scale, our guys getting shot in the back while on patrol with them, by them. Look for that in the news real soon. One case has already been aired, NBC station in Sacramento, CA. You can see the film at the station's web site. I got it via e-mail and have seen it. Ugly.

Posted by: BG on September 12, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Rhodebud wrote: "Since the Iraqi people own the oil, as everyone keeps saying, not some entrepreneurial wildcatters or a royal family or some powerful private corporations, why not formalize their ownership? Why not take advantage of the clean slate created by our invasion. At a specific day and time, award each man, woman, and child one share of the national Iraq oil corporation in the form of a gilt-edged stock certificate made out to each individual."

Interesting idea, but that's not what the Bush cartel has in mind:

While the Iraqi people struggle to define their future amid political chaos and violence, the fate of their most valuable economic asset, oil, is being decided behind closed doors.

This report reveals how an oil policy with origins in the US State Department is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost. The policy allocates the majority of Iraqs oilfields accounting for at least 64% of the countrys oil reserves for development by multinational oil companies.

Iraqi public opinion is strongly opposed to handing control over oil development to foreign companies. But with the active involvement of the US and British governments a group of powerful Iraqi politicians and technocrats is pushing for a system of long term contracts with foreign oil companies which will be beyond the reach of Iraqi courts, public scrutiny or democratic control.

Economic projections published here for the first time show that the model of oil development that is being proposed will cost Iraq hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue, while providing foreign companies with enormous profits.

Our key findings are:

  • At an oil price of $40 per barrel, Iraq stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the lifetime of the proposed contracts, from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed. These estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and seven times the current Iraqi government budget.
  • Under the likely terms of the contracts, oil company rates of return from investing in Iraq would range from 42% to 162%, far in excess of usual industry minimum target of around 12% return on investment.

This is and has always been the real goal of the Bush administration's war of unprovoked aggression against Iraq. And in this goal, the Bush administration is succeeding. This is why they will not withdraw US troops.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 12, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Rich Lowry is young enough to sign up. Let him put his wingnut sinecure where his mouth is.

Posted by: ahem on September 12, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives like William Kristol, Richard Lowry, and myself think anything we can do which would let the troops have a greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq should be done because Iraq and terrorism is the most important question for America.

Except that for three years plus, you did not think this. Hence, no more troops in 2003-2004 when it mattered (it was more important to protect Bush from criticism of undermanning the occupation than to protect the troops), and extreme tardiness in deploying the weaponry needed for this guerilla war (i.e., armored humvees). Who did Al criticize when Rumsfeld was asked why the troops had to scrounge for scrap metal in a pitiful attempt to up-armor humvees? Oh that's right, the press. Glad you were quick on the take to protect the troops.

Therefore, if doing something like sending more troops would give a 1% greater CHANCE of winning in Iraq, shouldn't that be done?

Sounds like Al's winning strategy to buy Lotto tickets in order to pay the rent.

Posted by: dmbeaster on September 12, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think it says a lot about the Washington Post that, out of a universe of truly informed commentators right in the neighborhood, the paper gives space to these two thoroughly discredited and intellectually bankrupt disinfo merchants.

The WaPo corporation will keep sailing along, but I suspect the newspaper is on the verge of a tailspin. During my commute on the Washington Metro, I notice that I rarely see more than one Post reader in a full subway car. Most people seem to be reading the dumbed-down Express -- also printed by the WaPoCorp, but free, and practically jammed into folks' hands at the station entrances by hirelings.

Posted by: sglover on September 12, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Lowry and Kristol fall off the trolley--and betray their fundumental misunderstanding of the Fourth Generation warfare forces that we are fighting in Iraq--right in their initial statement and its implicit assumption.

Whatever else may happen in Iraq going forward, there will NEVER be a "decisive battle at a decisive moment." Four years of fighting insurgencies should have taught that to ANY observer. Why waste valuable ink and paper pulp on commentators who still have their minds locked in World War II?

Posted by: dell on September 12, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

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